The author of this article, Armando Hart Davalos, was a member of the urban youth movement in Havana before the Revolution where he studied law at the University. Soon, Hart joined with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and, while they fought against Batista from the countryside, Hart was one of the primary leaders in the fight from the urban areas of the country. In the new revolutionary government, Hart became Cuba’s first education minister. Later, Hart served as Cuba’s minister of culture for nearly twenty years. Hart was the husband of Haydee Santamaria, a brilliant and brave revolutionary, who was one of only two women who fought at the attack on the Moncada garrison on July 26, 1953, signaling the beginning of the Cuban revolution. She was imprisoned after the Moncada attack and 27 years after the trauma of the torture and death of both her brother and lover at the hands of Batista, she committed suicide. Hart and Santamaria are among Cuba’s greatest heroes.
Presently, Hart is the Director of the Marti Program Office in Havana.
“The Validity of José Martí
By: Armando Hart Dávalos
2009-05-19 | 15:38:26 EST
Today we pay tribute to Cuban National hero José Martí on the 114th anniversary of his death in Dos Ríos and his subsequent rise to immortality. This is a good opportunity to extol his ideas and the validity of his bequest in times that are undoubtedly the most complex and difficult in the history of humankind. The current era is often compared to the crisis of capitalism in 1929; however, the situation is worse and only comparable to when the Roman Empire collapsed in the mid turn of the first millennium; even more because life on Earth is being threatened.
Over a century ago, Rosa Luxemburgo declared: socialism or barbarism. Today we could say: barbarism if we are lucky. In front of this universal challenge, Cubans are morally bound to show the world who Marti was.
It is necessary to know and promote the ideas of the man who Rubén Dario referred to as “The Master.” Martí was a forerunner of modernism in poetry and is considered one of the best Spanish orators; an essayist who was able to tackle, highlight and identify the new elements emerging in the science and culture of his epoch. He was an enthusiastic critic of art and organizer of the Cuban Revolutionary Party during Cuba´s final war for independence (1895-1898).
The cornerstone of his life as a revolutionary and thinker was that Marti linked together science, conscience and action.
He was not a warrior; but he was aware about the importance of war to free Cuba and understood that he must practice what he preached. This was the main cause of his death in Dos Ríos on May 19, 1895, shortly after the war he prepared and organized had begun. This is the essence of this educational virtue.
In times in which we are facing a universal crisis, Marti represents a paradigm that can help us find the way to the future. Today, as many revolutionary processes are being carried out in Latin America, we can find look to Marti´s ideas —based on equality and justice— to help make policy and defend cultures rooted in Latin American traditions.
Marti said: “With everyone and for the good of everyone,” and “Those people who don´t know each other should hurry up to get to know each other, as those who are going to fight united.”
To achieve this, calls for a comprehensive general culture as exists in Latin America. Outstanding Latin American thinkers from Francisco de Miranda, Simon Rodríguez, Felix Varela, José de la Luz y Caballero to current ones have worked towards a comprehensive general culture. Why are Marti and Fidel original? Because both of them include culture into what Marti called the art of doing politics. His definition of politics is very clear.
“Politics is the art of inventing a resource to each new resource of the opponents; to turn setbacks into fortune.”
In Machiavellian thought, the goal of politics is to divide and conquer. That is, a politics that is unethical and opportunistic. In Marti´s thought, the presence of all these elements is a key component. Ethics, politics and rights based on comprehensive general culture is the Latin America and Caribbean formula displayed to the present world.
A major, practical mistake of the leftwing movements of the 20th century was to separate politics from culture. This link between politics, culture and education is at the core of what 21st century socialism needs to focus on.
The centenary generation of Marti and Fidel have kept ethical culture as a fundamental element of their politics for over half a century.
Marti said that the single most important element was justice. He also said: “Every man is a sleeping wild animal. It is necessary to rein in this wild animal. And man is an admirable wild animal: he has been given the right to take control of himself.”
The reins consist of culture. And rights is the only educated way to exert violence; when the law is broken and conditions are set to give free rein to violence, public order is threatened. This is one of the topics to debate on in the light of ethical traditions and Cuban laws.
Regarding his politics of solidarity, remember that Marti was both a radical and harmonious. There are people who are radical but not harmonious and so they cause too much trouble. There are people who try to be harmonious but don´t succeed. Marti´s revolutionary thought is inserted in these two categories: harmonious and radical.
Time has come to overcome foreign dogmas and frameworks and to study the life and work of all the great thinkers throughout history. It is the only scientific and political way to free ourselves from oppressive systems and create a genuine humanity. And we can only achieve this by fostering love and solidarity.
That is why we stress the importance of studying what we have called the culture of doing politics, present in both Marti´s and Fidel´s works. Promoting research of the philosophy of Marti and Simon Bolivar is a must to guarantee a better political future for Latin America and the world.
Unlike Europe, the Americas tried to create harmony and peace. Therefore, the Americas has been able to show universal thought as the main option of the 21st century. This is Marti´s and Bolivar´s America, two giants who, along with heroes and thinkers, are key elements to finding the right path to 21st century socialism.”